new for the new year! ‘the swift’ by midwich on altar of waste

January 7, 2014 at 9:23 am | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | 4 Comments
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Midwich – The Swift (CD-r in DVD case, Altar of Waste, AOW 145, edition of 15)

midwich - the swift cover

Hmmm… never thought of myself as a curly font sort of act but that cover is lovely isn’t it?  RFM is very proud to kick off 2014 by announcing the availability of some new midwich material.  The Swift comprises one 65 minute track, on CD-r, presented in a beautifully designed cover, in a tiny hand-made edition, by highly-regarded American noise label Altar of Waste.  Here is the very flattering blurb written by AoW head-honcho Cory Strand:

Gorgeous and tidal cascade of gentle droning sounds that become something akin to a crushing roar from the between the cracks in the sky and the broken limbs of trees, Midwich’s epic construction “The Swift” is a piece that flirts with both natural ambience and HNW severity without fulling giving over to either.  Created from field recordings of swarms of swifts procured by the artist, the sounds here recall both the bleak pastoral harmony of the English landscape and the encroaching rumbles of black clouds swarming the sky.  Similar in tone to the work of Richard Skelton with a goodly dose of Daniel Menche’s and Clive Henry’s approaches to manipulated field recordings, “The Swift” is an amazing composition that demonstrates both the awesome power of the natural world around us and the possibilities inherent within electronic manipulation.  An incredibly creative work that blurs whatever genre lines you’d care to draw.

Altar Of Waste is very pleased to release this latest missive from one of the UK’s finest practitioners of underground drone.  Succumb to the swarm and feel the tense beating of thousands of wings buzzing around you.  Breathe in the awe.

I’m blushing! Still, I have to admit I’m very pleased with this.  Although it builds on previous ‘augmented field recording’ pieces like ‘Eaves‘ and ‘Seasonal Adjustment‘ I think it is a notable step forward for midwich.  It is built from a number of sources – synth drones, domestic and backyard recordings – and at over an hour long easily my lengthiest and most ambitious piece.

A quick word about pricing.  For those in the USA this is a steal at ten bucks all in and there are no excuses for not gracing Cory with your custom.  For those here in the UK, or elsewhere in the world, you may blink a bit to discover that this will set you back $23 (about £14 at time of writing) including postage.  This is because US international postal rates have risen to an absolutely brutal level.  Cory has taken some stick for his prices, and defends himself eloquently here.  To paraphrase: postal charges are beyond his control, he makes a loss on almost every item he sends abroad but does it anyway because, like the rest of us, he loves the music.  Think about it like this: what you’ll be getting is a new and intriguing piece by “one of the UK’s finest practitioners of underground drone” at a high-value length in a beautiful package from a tiny edition.  There is no digital afterlife planned for it either.  If it helps, all purchasers may download everything from my Bandcamp page whilst paying nowt and feeling no guilt for doing so…

[EDIT: you lot have done me proud – nine days after release and six days after the post above and there are only three copies left!  Many thanks, comrades.  If you want one – and of course you do – better not sleep on it… RH – 13/01/2014.]

The Swift on Altar of Waste blog.

Buy The Swift from Altar of Waste store.

hot, hot summer hitz: new from midwich on bandcamp

July 20, 2013 at 6:08 am | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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three days in wooden block edition frontthree days in covermidwich - flint soul beach midwich - light industry

Ladies and gentlemen, may I call your attention to a further three releases cooling on the windowsill over at the midwich Bandcamp site.  There is much for the discerning dronester to get their teeth into.

First is three days in, four to go, originally released in 2003 on CD-r in an edition of 75 with a lovely screen printed cover by Carbon Records of Rochester, New York.  This is a rarity in that it has not been available digitally before and is one of my favourites of the first-wave midwich albums.  Forward looking, creamy.  ‘snows’ is an orchestra of hairclipper fuzz, the title track is a deeply penetrating 20 minute cardiothrob (at the time of writing a few of the original physical objects are also still available).

Next is a brand new live album, light industry, featuring recordings of my performances at the two Sheepscar Light Industrial summer shows, both of which took place at Wharf Chambers in Leeds.  The 2012 piece is a unique combo of the field recording from Eaves and the drone from ‘verdigris’.  The 2013 set is two tracks: a version of the title track from inertia crocodile and an as yet untitled track of heavy drone featuring a recording of Thomas the Baby gulping his milk as rhythm. The latter set was dedicated to Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher in honour of his 50th birthday.  Links to more about these shows, and to a ten minute YouTube video immortalising part of the former, can be found over at Bandcamp.

Finally we have flint soul beach – a favourite from the back catalogue. This 18 minute track is full of hope that the broken can be mended and is perfect for the current heatwave. Originally released in 2003 by fencing flatworm recordings on a 3″ CD-r in an edition of 50 (ffr-e). For the cover picture the band name and title were chalked on the end of Littlehampton pier at low tide. It was washed away a few hours later…

I hope you enjoy what you hear.

midwich at Bandcamp

buy now! name your price! probably ‘zero’! midwich on bandcamp

July 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Posted in blog info, fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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life underwater

Ladies and gentlemen, your faithful editor returns from his holiday week refreshed and bearing good news: RFM is proud to announce the launch of the midwich Bandcamp site.  The initial offering is of nine releases.  Featured among them are running repairs and ‘verdigris’, my contribution to the Victorian Electronics box, both originally released by Striate Cortex and both long sold out.  Also airing is the perpetually-coming-soon october in yorkshire, fished from the wreckage of the scuppered Zanntone label.  More will follow in due course.

As well as new releases, live recordings and rarities previously unavailable in a digital form, I will copy across some back catalogue items that can already be found in mp3 format on this blog’s discography page.  I think this is worth doing because via Bandcamp you’ll be able to get it in any format you like (the wavs sound well nice) and download whole albums at once.  Your convenience is my motivation.

Everything will be offered on a ‘pay what you like’ basis so visitors are able to use the ‘support’ and ‘collection’ functions within Bandcamp (whatever they are.  I’m told those functions get turned off I just select ‘free download’).  Don’t worry though as entering ‘£0’ is fine if you have ‘£0’ to spend.  I won’t be using this as a way of harvesting your email address either.  Donations are welcome, of course, and I pledge that 100% of any money raised will be spent within the no-audience underground either purchasing music by others or diffusing the cost of releasing physical editions of future releases, thus helping keep the flow of goodwill circulating.

Speaking of which, may I cash in a little goodwill in exchange for some quid pro quo?  If you are a reader and/or had your work featured on this blog could I ask that you return the favour by checking this site out and maybe nudge a friend or two in the same direction?  Those more connected than myself – I remain self-excluded from Twitter/Facebook – may wish to alert others via those means.

I would be very much obliged to you all.  I hope you enjoy what you hear.

The midwich Bandcamp site.

…and whilst I’m at it, various other midwich releases can be found elsewhere on Bandcamp.  Check out cut flowers, eaves and single figures too.

P.S.  This is the 300th post on RFM.  Woo!

new midwich product! ‘single figures’ on kirkstall dark matter

March 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | 5 Comments
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midwich – single figures

(3″ CD-r, edition of 49 with handmade insert or download, Kirkstall Dark Matter)

midwich - single figures - frontmidwich - single figures - back

Wow, things move fast nowadays, eh?  I’m late for my own party here!  This was released in the early hours of Wednesday morning and, thanks to the wonders of facebook and the like, is already old news to all the little william gibsons out there.  A very flattering account has already been posted to inaugurate the new reviews and interviews section of Miguel Perez’s Oracle blog.  Go check it out then return here and settle down with me in the study.  I know certain members of my constituency are of a more, shall we say, pipe-smoking inclination so I’ll explain what has occurred at a leisurely pace.

Dave Thomas, half of Hagman and the whole of ap martlet – both lavishly praised on this blog, recently felt the urge to start a microlabel.  It comes to us all and he isn’t to be blamed for it.  In cheeky homage to Sheepscar Light Industrial he has chosen the moniker Kirkstall Dark Matter for his endeavour.  Soon, no doubt, each district of Leeds will have its own microlabel, allegiances will shift and bloody wars will break out with a Game of Thrones style ferocity.  For now though all is calm.  Dave asked me if I would like to submit something.

Around that time I was winding down my year-long return to the live ‘arena’.  Over the course of half a dozen gigs I proved (if only to myself) that a bloke wigging out to his own drones can be entertaining and rediscovered that the natural volume for midwich stuff is trouser-flappingly loud.  However, I find performing live, even for twenty minutes and with a set-up that fits comfortably in a rucksack, quite a commitment.  I was privately glad to use impending fatherhood as an excuse to return to semi-retirement.  But I get ahead of myself.

Before Christmas I revisited the sun-burnt, suburban heat-haze of ‘augmented field recording’ eaves – my smash hit Summer single – and thought it was time to try something similar but colder.  Using the dictaphone function on my mp3 player (slipped into the turn-up of my woolly hat) I recorded the walk home along Chapeltown Road during a wet, dark evening rush hour.  The rise, rumble and fall of the traffic, unedited and pleasingly oceanic with plenty of sub-bass, leant itself perfectly to an accompanying slow pulsing drone riff and ‘seasonal adjustment’ was complete.  Not only did it fit as a companion piece to eaves but there was a link back to the workaday alienation that informed the very first midwich stuff such as ‘every day is the same’.  Ooo.. hark at me, eh?  Check out the fancypants artistic vision!  Smell the integrity!

‘penny dropped’ started life as another dicta-recording, this time of a cake tin lid rocking back and forth on our kitchen work surface.  It’s a noise I find strangely soothing, despite its proximity to the sound of sharpening knives, and it seemed an obvious bookend to a shorter, more vigorous drone piece.  Rebranded as single figures (parts one and two), these tracks totalled twenty minutes: a new set!

Just before Christmas I premiered this ‘Winter’ version at a gig organised by my old mucker Matt Robson and it got a second outing at the Hogwash night on 9th January.  The latter gig was where I played alongside forgets and Chrissie Caulfield and thus has already been extensively documented on this blog (and also reviewed here).  A recording was made by improv-tigger Pascal Ansell, given to Dave and you can now hear it too courtesy of KDM (complete with that scamp Phil Todd shouting ‘get off’ before I even begin: his comedic reaction to my news that I didn’t have any guitar effects pedals at all, following two acts that may have had 30 between them).

The physical edition (of 49 copies) comes recorded on games console-style CD-rs with black mirror playing surfaces.  Each disc is packaged in a unique wraparound insert made of an adulterated page taken from a copy of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos – the book from which my band name is lifted.  A hand printed strip, similar to what would be found in a library book back in the days of the card index, contains the details.  All is protected by a robust plastic wallet.  It is carefully thought out, winningly executed and very satisfying.  For those unconcerned with objects, or who otherwise miss out, a download can be nabbed on a pay-what-you-like basis from the same Bandcamp page.

Buy here.

new from sheepscar light industrial: the skull mask, hagman, midwich

August 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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The Skull Mask – Ella Y su Mirada Lasciva (3″CD-r, edition of 50 and download, SLI.004)

Hagman – Wormwood (3″CD-r, edition of 50 and download, SLI.005)

Midwich – Eaves (3″CD-r, edition of 50 and download, SLI.006)

Hot off the press from Sheepscar Light Industrial – the label that is taking the no-audience underground by storm with its enthusiasm, faultless quality control and exemplary bookkeeping practices.  Dan’s releases are irresistible both for their cheapness and for the elegant generic packaging (which seems to be awakening the football sticker collector that lurks within most noise enthusiasts).  A brief account in reverse order…

Midwich – Eaves (SLI.006)

Yep, s’me.  During the March heatwave a colony of bees moved into the eaves of the roof of Midwich Towers above the spare bedroom.  My little mp3 player has a dictaphone-style recording function so I blu-tacked it to the outside of the window, as close to the bees as I could reach and let it roll for an hour or so.  To my delight this recorded not only the bees going about their business but kids playing in neighbouring gardens, lawnmowers, cars driving past etc.  All very ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’.  I even got an ambulance siren from the distant main road.  I edited this down to 20 minutes of highlights and layered a gamelanish pulse over it.  This pauses for the ambulance to go past at the eight minute mark, restarts for the second half and is gradually smeared and distorted in what I hope is an hypnotic manner until the inevitable fade out.  I wanted to capture that delicious fuzzy-headed, been out too long in the sun, red-armed, one too many pipes or cans of beer feeling we can occasionally experience on those rare sunny days.  I’m very proud of how well it turned out.  My Summer single.

Hagman – Wormwood (SLI.005)

Two tracks seamlessly segued.  ‘Wormwood’ sounds like a cover version of ‘I Feel Love’ recorded by someone who had only heard the original once, drifting on the wind from a distant wedding reception marquee, whilst half-submerged at the bottom of a very deep well.  Or a child lost in the humming, crackling bowels of a power station trying to alert a search party by vigorously shaking a ball-bearing in an old tobacco tin.  ‘Squashed Fly’ smears it out but keeps the level of mystery high.  Imagine a prop-plane investigating an oceanic magnetic anomaly, all its onboard instruments singing and buzzing despite circling over the weirdness at a height of a thousand feet.  Remarkable stuff.

The Skull Mask – Ella Y su Mirada Lasciva (SLI.004)

Regular visitors to this blog are aware of my love for the music of Mexico’s Miguel Pérez, RFM’s correspondent of the Americas.  In particular they have read me evangelizing about his solo acoustic guitar project The Skull Mask and this piece is a notable addition to his growing catalogue.  A reverb-drenched psychedelic crescendo rises, folds in on itself, continues to rise, shifts gears around the eight minute mark and evolves into a further twelve minutes of tightly controlled shamanistic ritual.  This stuff is wild, primal but also highly accomplished and technically impressive.  It’s like watching someone surf a tsunami.  I can listen to The Skull Mask all day long and when I do Miguel always returns me to the world with my understanding of it enhanced.  I couldn’t be happier to see UK labels picking up on this stuff.  A much anticipated release on Striate Cortex is also in the works…

OK: no excuses.  At the SLI Bandcamp page CD-rs are available for less than the price of a coffee, downloads on a ‘pay what you like’ basis – which can be nowt, of course, if you are seriously strapped.  Generous multi-buy deals are available at gigs where Dan is present.  Get ’em bought.

new midwich product! ‘cut flowers’ on memoirs of an aesthete

July 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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midwich – cut flowers (Memoirs of an Aesthete)

Ladies and gentlemen, RFM is proud to annouce the release of Cut Flowers on Phil Todd’s terrific label Memoirs of an Aesthete.  This was the first recording made by the reactivated midwich and follows the traditional midwich album pattern of squeaky-drone-bubble-drone.  It’s release has been delayed for the best part of a year due to a devastating crocodile attack on the caravan carrying the masters as it crossed the Zambezi river.  Luckily almost all of those involved have now recovered from their injuries.

A few artist’s freebies were rescued from the carnage and handed out around the time of the comeback gig I played in the snow in February.  This led to the following comment, edited from a very flattering review over at Idwal Fisher:

Having listened to quite a bit of Midwich material over the years I detect a game of two halves; one being the breaking apart head nodding trancelike repetitive melody as fingered on a tiny keyboard … and the other being the overhead passing prop plane drone with all manner of layered nuance for company. In both, subtle shifts in harmonics occur which act in a drug like fashion putting the listener into a soporific eye rolling stasis … A more detailed look at ‘Cut Flowers’ will see a 47 second opener that you might be able to dance to [First Impressions], a fourteen minute prop plane droner [Mitigating Circumstances], a seven minute head bobber [Queen Olive] and a bow out track [Sea Kale] that runs to twelve minutes worth of shimmering drone that drifts across your vision like fag smoke in a tap room.

Cool, eh?  Dying to get your hands on it now, I bet.  Well, off you trot to the Memoirs Bandcamp page (click on ‘further releases’ if you can’t see it in the sidebar).  A limited edition CD-r with the lovely colour cover shown above can be had for a fiver (shipping first week of August) or, should you shun physical objects nowadays, a download can be had for a pitiful two quid!  I’ll truck no excuse – buy here.

midwich & the skull mask update: now available for free download

June 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

Now for the final phase of this project.  Almost all the physical copies found a home some time ago so we have decided to make it available for download.  Help yourself via the links above or on my discography page.  It can also be had via the Oracle Netlabel (where more stuff by The Skull Mask can be found for free) and Miguel is working on getting it up on that Bandcamp so we can pretend to be hipsters.  Thanks again to those who traded for the actual objects – your time and interest was much appreciated by both of us.  Should anyone still want a tangible thing then Miguel may have a couple of copies left.  Drop him a line at lamancha@rocketmail.com and do your bit for international relations.

The original post detailing this release can be read here, further puff plus a lovely review from Joe Posset can be found here and it is mentioned in a double-whammy combo review of this plus ‘running repairs’ on Idwal Fisher here.  Possibly of interest to those who have seen me perform recently: ‘That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold’ is the long, droney second track of the set that I played both in the snow in February and in Stoke last weekend.

new midwich product! ‘running repairs’ on striate cortex

April 11, 2012 at 7:34 am | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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midwich – running repairs (CD-r, edition of 60, Striate Cortex S.C.46)

Ladies and gentlemen, RFM is delighted to announce the release of a fine new midwich recording.  The music it contains is as follows:

The first 20 minutes is all ‘new territories’.  Working alongside new bandmate Daniel Thomas, and with the beginners’ luck of novice Frankensteins, we have created a multi-limbed monster of ghost tones and gutter fuzz.  An hydraulic, ka-thumping wobble provides motorik momentum.  This track is as serious, resolute and kinky as a master of Kinbaku-bi but with more room to breathe in it than that simile suggests.  Hopefully more to come from the midwich power-duo.

(A word about my collaborator: Daniel Thomas has an infallible ear when it comes to the dynamics of a pedal loop and Shaolin level patch-lead skills.  His compositional pedigree is impressive too, having scored some prestigious modern dance performances.  Luckily, he doesn’t mind getting all-in with my more brute approach to proceedings.  On his SoundCloud site you will find ‘PommesDeRivière‘, his remix of midwich’s ‘river apples‘ in a hypnotic, Basic Channel style.  Daniel is also part of improvising noise troupe Hagman, who have a gig coming soon at an anarchist event in Shipley (details to be confirmed – or perhaps not, given the politics of the occasion) and is currently tending the nascent Sheepscar Light Industrial, which I’m sure will prove to be interest to my faithful readers.)

Linking the first and final tracks is ‘pennine interlude’ which documents the new hyper-fast transpennine bullet train that will take you from the wilds of Lancashire back to the civilisation of Yorkshire in just two minutes and seventeen seconds.  Listen for the pings.

Lastly, we have ‘bosky’ – a thick, viscous drone that grows increasingly more intense and insistent over (much of) its 26 minute length.  I sometimes use the term ‘ego-dissolving’ to describe an effective drone piece but ‘bosky’ demands a more active phrase: ‘ego-disintegrating’ maybe?  I hope so.  This is not a sugary syrup into which your mind can be happily stirred.  This is a vibrating, pulverising machine for reducing psyche to sand then performing cymatic experiments on the result.  Properly invigorating, in my humble opinion.

This album breaks new ground for me: it is the first time midwich has recorded as a duo, it is the first time the midwich sound has not been sourced entirely from my battered MC-303, it contains a level of layering and processing (and thus: work) hitherto alien to me and, at 50 minutes, it is the longest demand I have ever made on your attention.

It is also my first album on Andy Robinson’s label Striate Cortex.  Even the casual reader of this blog should be able to guess what that means to me and I couldn’t be more delighted at the package Andy has put together to house our modest efforts – see scans above, every cover different.  Andy, humble to the point of monkhood, insists that he not be credited at all in the liner notes accompanying his releases but this is my blog, goddammit, and I can praise who I like.  So here goes: I know of no other label producing such consistently high quality releases and the fact that he does this entirely on his own (and at his own expense during difficult times) makes him a candidate for the no-audience underground equivalent of the Légion d’honneur.  He even took a massive detour during an Easter weekend road-trip in order to meet up with me man-to-man (in the Fox & Newt, naturally) and hand over a ludicrously generous pile of freebies.

This is a quality assured release.  I can honestly say that if I was a punter unaffiliated with midwich or Striate Cortex I would gladly hand over the dough for this, so it goes without saying that you should too.  I know I’ve used this line before, but I’m not above a bit of mild guilt-tripping: if you dig this blog then please consider this purchase (the same unit cost as a single pitiful, joyless issue of The Wire magazine) to be the price of a subscription to radiofreemidwich.  And I promise this is the last time I’ll mention Striate Cortex too.  Well, for a little while at least…

Go on, treat yourself and buy here for a mere £4 plus postage.

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